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Atari Facing $291 Million Debt Claim From... Atari 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the autocannibalism-is-a-great-capitalist-tradition dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Atari declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and part of that process involves selling off its property in order to pay as many entities holding its debt as possible. The latest round includes a $30 million claim from Atari's parent company in France, and a $261 million claim from another subsidiary of that parent company. The $30 million debt is secured (in other words, they get priority on whatever's left in the U.S. Atari's coffers), but the $261 million debt is not, so they'll have to wait in line with everybody else." The article also lists some interesting sell-offs. The old Accolade brand got sold for $50,000, the Battlezone Franchise was sold to Rebellion Interactive for $566,500, and Wargaming World Limited purchased the Total Annihilation and Masters of Orion franchises. Stardock Systems, creators of Sins of a Solar Empire, picked up the rights to the Star Control franchise, which they intend to reboot. (Those who played it will recall that StarCon2 was the Best Game Ever. And it's been remade after the creators released the source code.)
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Atari Facing $291 Million Debt Claim From... Atari

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  • holy fucking shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @08:06PM (#44366717)

    new star control game?!

    ANYONE?!

    • Re:holy fucking shit (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sowelu (713889) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @08:17PM (#44366785)

      God damn it. Stardock is going to ruin it with their awful, awful writing. GalCiv2 had the worst humor I've ever seen in a 4x game ever. I know that nobody plays 4x games for the writing, but it was so bad it hurt.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by ilsaloving (1534307)

      EJACULATION!

    • Stardock makes awful, banal games that only a calculator could love (which they aren't glitching and crashing)

      Their version of Star Control will be horrific.

    • by dottrap (1897528)

      Unless they work with Toys for Bob, they can't reference anything in Star Control 1 or 2 because Toys for Bob retains the copyright for the characters and story.
      http://www.incgamers.com/2013/07/open-source-star-control-2-team-express-doubts-over-atari-ip-sale [incgamers.com]

      • That's great, so Stardock will make Star Control 3 1/2 and hopefully Toys For Bob will regain the full IP when Stardock goes under.

      • by pthisis (27352)

        Unless they work with Toys for Bob, they can't reference anything in Star Control 1 or 2 because Toys for Bob retains the copyright for the characters and story.
        http://www.incgamers.com/2013/07/open-source-star-control-2-team-express-doubts-over-atari-ip-sale [incgamers.com]

        The idea that Toys for Bob of all people would pursue a claim of someone ripping them off is pretty rich, given that Star Control was a thinly veiled ripoff of Starflight (which itself has a better claim to "best PC game of all time" than Star Control

        • by Dahamma (304068)

          It's not a "ripoff" since the lead designer of Starflight (Greg Johnson) worked on Star Control 2, and the lead designer of Star Control 2 worked on Starflight. How do you rip YOURSELF off?! You might as well just call Black & White a ripoff of Populous or Mass Effect a ripoff of KOTOR. Same people, similar concepts, different titles. Big deal...

          • by pthisis (27352)

            This is a joke, right? If Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr leave the Beatles, they aren't allowed to write "Hey Dude" and "I Want to Hold You Man" to the tune of the originals and completely fail to pay John Lennon, George Harrison, and Apple Records. That's exactly what Star Control 2 did, though--it not only failed to reimburse Binary Systems, but also left the other developers out in the cold while pocketing money for work they did.

            And, yeah, I know that some of the developers from Binary went to Toys Fo

    • No love for Total Annihilation?

      Honestly I liked the campaign mode of SC1 better anyways, but maybe thats because I never had a 3do and only played UQM single player.

      • by Artemis3 (85734)

        Both sc1 and sc2 were lots of fun to play with another person. At least the PC/DOS game.

        Unfortunately sc2 for 3do had "smooth zoom", which ruined the Ilrwrath ship. Thankfully, they added a "pc" switch to ur-quan masters (the open sourced edition).

      • The interesting twist on this is that Chris Taylor (of TA fame) is working for WarGaming now - so he gets to reboot his own title (assuming that's the plan). That's just plain awesome!
    • by Artemis3 (85734)

      If its like 3, screw that.

      A brand means nothing if the authors are not there. You know, the guys who open sourced the game as "Ur-Quan Masters" because only the brand did not belong to them...

      And yes, i played the three Star Control games. 2 was the best, period. Since the second game was open sourced, its probably in the repository of your favorite distro.

    • That was the first question in my mind.
  • World of Tanks is pretty fun. Master of Orion is a completely different kind of game. Hope they can manage it okay. I'd love a decent sequel.
    • by captjc (453680)

      I don't expect anything as good as MOO2. However, anything would be better than the buggy heap of crap that was MOO3. Personally, I would have loved to see Firaxis get that property.

    • If they only made the in game ship combat control better and changed nothing else in MoO2, I would be happy to send them $50.
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @08:07PM (#44366725)

    And who owns the old atari rights now days?

    I think it's been a lot of spinoffs / buyouts over the years.

    • by Dan East (318230)

      I think Trepidity answered your question below. The Atari companies this article discusses were part of the hardware portion of Atari. The other software / IP side of Atari is totally separate and got passed around through the years and is now held by Warner Bros. That is if I interpreted Trepidity's post correctly.

      • by Dogtanian (588974)
        There wasn't a separate "hardware" portion of Atari, at least not when it was split in 1984. There was a computer/home-console division (which became Jack Tramiel's Atari Corp.), and an arcade division (Atari Games, later sold off). What the *precise* ownership of some of the gaming rights became as both those entities fizzled out towards meaningless from the mid-90s to early-noughties is unclear to me though.
  • but what about D&D? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @08:08PM (#44366733)

    Atari owned the rights to make D&D based computer rpg's does that right get sold or returned to hasbro or is it under another branch of atari? If it is under this branch of atari what happens to the lawsuit against beam dog over the baldurs gate enhanced edition that is holding up the android and linux ports from being released.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      after daggerdale atari should never be allowed to touch D&D ever again, god what a shit game

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ish' in gap]> on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @08:15PM (#44366777)

    A fun fact is that neither of the two Ataris suing each other here are in any reasonable sense the original Atari. First of all, the original company split in 1984 due to financial difficulties, into two companies: 1) Atari Games, which owned the rights to the classic game IP; and 2) Atari Computer, which took over making actual hardware.

    Atari Games existed for a few year in the mid-'80s, but in the late '80s went defunct, getting bought up by Time Warner, which later became AOL, which later sold them to Midway Games, which was later acquired by Warner Bros. So it's basically a copyright holding company owned by some group of investors that is several degrees of separation removed from anyone who actually worked on an Atari game.

    Atari Computer initially did some interesting stuff, mostly notably putting out the Atari ST, and later the Atari 7800. They sort of tanked in the late-'80s/early-'90s though, when the Atari Lynx and the Atari Jaguar both fell hugely short of expectations. This half of the company then met the same fate as Atari Games: it de-facto ceased to exist, except as IP that got sold around between various companies that never had anything to do with its products, in this case Hasbro and Infogrames. And now two parts of this half are suing each other.

    The short version of the story is: Atari got split up in 1984, was defunct by 1993, and now two, of at least three, companies that own some kind of claim to the name "Atari" are suing each other, but none of them have anything to do with Atari, except insofar as they are leeches who've somehow ended up with the rights to exploit the trademark.

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @08:40PM (#44366905) Homepage

      The companies in this story were renamed "Atari" somewhat recently:

      Atari Inc. was formerly GT Interactive
      Atari SA and Atari Europe were formerly Infogrames Entertainment

      The French company Infogrames purchased GT Interactive and Hasbro Interactive. In the late 90's/early 2000's Hasbro bought the rights to the old Atari games and naming rights, which is what allowed Infogrames to rebrand the main company and their various divisions as "Atari."

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      Atari Games existed for a few year in the mid-'80s, but in the late '80s went defunct, getting bought up by Time Warner, which later became AOL, which later sold them to Midway Games, which was later acquired by Warner Bros. So it's basically a copyright holding company owned by some group of investors that is several degrees of separation removed from anyone who actually worked on an Atari game.

      You're broadly right, but wrong in some of the details.

      "Atari Games" (the arcade division) existed under that name until well into the nineties, and after that as "Midway Games West", though as Midway left the arcade market in the early-noughties, that's now dead.

      Ironically, Warner Communications- one of Time Warner's predecessors- was the owner of Atari Inc. (i.e. *the* original Atari company) in its heyday from just before the VCS launch until the 1984 split.

      Atari Corporation (Tramiel's company that you m

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        "Atari Games" (the arcade division) existed under that name until well into the nineties, and after that as "Midway Games West", though as Midway left the arcade market in the early-noughties, that's now dead.

        Midway Games was owned by Williams since the late 80s so Midway Games West would've been an absorption by Midway into the Williams fold (Atari Games became Midway Games West to avoid trademark disputes with Hasbro). As part of the restructuring in the late 90s, Williams spun off Midway as a semi-indepe

        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          These days, arcade gaming is dead because of well, the iPhone.

          I thought that- with the exception of some niche games like Dance Dance Revolution- arcade gaming had already all but died in most Western countries during the 1990s, when home consoles became as cutting edge as their arcade brethren. That was well before the iPhone. (It supposedly lasted longer in Japan, but even there it's apparently declined badly in recent years).

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      Thanks to you, MrEricSir, and AC following for getting some truth out. As a long-time (well, over the short time they existed, plus later on before I got a "PC") user of the ST line, I mostly liked and admired many of those involved many of those involved in both divisions, and valued the few conversations with Bob Brodie, John Townsend, Ken Badertscher, and others.

      For some early history, please see:
      http://mcurrent.name/atarihistory/atari.html [mcurrent.name]
      starts with Nolan Bushnell at Ampex and goes from there.

  • by lord_mike (567148) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @08:23PM (#44366817)

    How much for the 3D Tic Tac Toe [wikipedia.org] franchise?

  • That's odd... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @08:32PM (#44366855)
    So Stardock got the rights for Star Control but _not_ Master of Orion? I wonder if they were outbid, or decided to pass on it since they have Galactic Civilizations, their own decently reviewed and decently selling turn based 4x space game. They can always make GalCiv 3 not that they've passed on the opportunity to make MoO 3 (it's too bad no one ever made a third MoO game before [xkcd.com]) but even after all this time i think perhaps the MoO name might have given them some cachet (and thus sales) that GalCiv wouldn't get.

    As for Star Control, despite the issues with the original release of Elemental i have a moderate amount of faith in Stardock's ability to handle the game well, but they've demonstrated themselves to be both credible as a developer (Galactic Civilizations, Political/Corporate Machine) and as a publisher (Sins of a Solar Empire with Ironcald Games [wikipedia.org].) So i wonder if they're going to develop this game themselves, or farm it out to someone else. Someone like, i dunno, Toys for Bob [wikipedia.org]? :)
    • They don't publish anymore, they just sell games on Steam.

      Awful, awful games.

      • by Daetrin (576516)
        Okay, judging from earlier comments you clearly have a hate-on for Stardock. I happen to disagree, since obviously i like both StarCon 2 and (most of) Stardock's games.

        However i'm not sure how you can say they don't publish games any more. How do you think games get on Steam? Believe it or not Valve is not the publisher of every game for sale on Steam.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      So Stardock got the rights for Star Control but _not_ Master of Orion? I wonder if they were outbid, or decided to pass on it since they have Galactic Civilizations, their own decently reviewed and decently selling turn based 4x space game. They can always make GalCiv 3 not that they've passed on the opportunity to make MoO 3 (it's too bad no one ever made a third MoO game before [xkcd.com]) but even after all this time i think perhaps the MoO name might have given them some cachet (and thus sales) that GalCiv wouldn't get.

      As for Star Control, despite the issues with the original release of Elemental i have a moderate amount of faith in Stardock's ability to handle the game well, but they've demonstrated themselves to be both credible as a developer (Galactic Civilizations, Political/Corporate Machine) and as a publisher (Sins of a Solar Empire with Ironcald Games [wikipedia.org].) So i wonder if they're going to develop this game themselves, or farm it out to someone else. Someone like, i dunno, Toys for Bob [wikipedia.org]? :)

      I think as long as Stardock gets someone else to do the writing, a decent SciFi writer with a sense of humour. GalCiv 2 was a very good turn based strategy game (albeit with a steep learning curve) but the criticism that the writing was crap is a valid one. Gal Civ 2 was a good game on its gameplay rather than its story.

      Then again, seeing what passes for decent storywriting these days (erm Far Cry 3, Bioshock) Brad Wardell could vomit on a typewriter and be considered amongst the best writers of the mod

  • So if I want to rip off and steal investors and bank money all I have to do is create 3 shell companies move the debt around and pretend they are 3 entities then declare bankruptcies on all 3 where I get first dibs on my own debt. Then keep all the money again to myself since I get first dibs. Meanwhile pensioner and investor funds get screwed.

    Is there any ethics left or did I misinterpret this story? This should be illegal as none of us us individuals can do this with credit card debt as that of course wou

  • Does anyone know who bought the franchise for Desert Bus?
    http://games.yahoo.com/blogs/plugged-in/desert-bus-worst-videogame-time-160542705.html [yahoo.com]
    That was a classic.

  • by brit74 (831798) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @09:24PM (#44367111)
    > "Stardock Systems, creators of Sins of a Solar Empire, picked up the rights to the Star Control franchise, which they intend to reboot."

    Sins of a Solar Empire was created by Ironclad Games and published by Stardock. Stardock has developed their own games in the past, but let's give credit where credit is due: it belongs to Ironclad Games. It's sad that publishers get more credit and name recognition than developers these days.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sins_of_a_Solar_Empire [wikipedia.org]
  • by Drakonblayde (871676) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @09:25PM (#44367115)

    to the Baldur's Gate franchise. Beamdog is basically in a holding pattern because Atari told them to cease and desist for now, which is holding up the Enhanced Edition of Baldur's Gate 2.

  • Best 16 bit pc ever. I shed a tiny tear whenever I think about that machine and the Laser C compiler I got for it.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Best 16 bit pc ever.

      You can make an Amiga into an Atari ST by adding a serial to MIDI adapter (the Amiga has 31250bps serial ports, so it's really just a level converter) but the Atari ST doesn't have the Amiga's bit blitter et cetera. Victory: Amiga :D

      • by Sloppy (14984)

        And you can put a 68020 in your Amiga and leave all this "best 16-bit pc" talk behind.

  • by oldsak (1659305) on Tuesday July 23, 2013 @10:20PM (#44367319)
    http://www.incgamers.com/2013/07/open-source-star-control-2-team-express-doubts-over-atari-ip-sale [incgamers.com]
    Apparently they only got the trademark to the name "Star Control" and the copyright to Star Control 3. Unless the license the Star Control 2 content as well, we might get something very different with the Star Control name slapped on.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      http://www.incgamers.com/2013/07/open-source-star-control-2-team-express-doubts-over-atari-ip-sale [incgamers.com]

      Apparently they only got the trademark to the name "Star Control" and the copyright to Star Control 3. Unless the license the Star Control 2 content as well, we might get something very different with the Star Control name slapped on.

      as long as they have license to all the stuff in the universe, it's all the same. I'm pretty sure that's how they inteprete it, so they can use shofixtis and spathis.. or maybe they'll just remake the 3. the plot wasn't that bad, it's just couple of aspects that ruined it, like the map being a rotating ball.. no sense of exploration when you see everything right away.

      • by tbannist (230135)
        Actually, the copyrights for Star Control 1 and 2 remain with the original developers, and Stardock has acknowledged that and is trying to work them for the new game. Or at least, that's what Brad Wardell, the CEO of Stardock, posted on the boards [stack.nl] for the open source Star Control 2 game.
  • I don't have much to add other than I'm hugely excited for both Star Control and Battlezone. SC1 and SC2 were bedrock mainstays of my college days, and the hover-tank Battlezone released in 1998 was phenomenal.

    I've since moved on to play and enjoy The Ur-Quan Masters [sourceforge.net], but even shortly after SC2's heyday and before UQM was available, I remember paying for a legit download of the PC version of the game (late '98, early '99?). If we could get network mode Melee, I'd be tickled pink. If there were a persiste

  • by blazer1024 (72405)

    Someone already rebooted Star Control II. It was called Mass Effect. :)

    I'm kidding, but seriously, go play Mass Effect 1 and compare it to SC2. There are a LOT of similarities there.

    For starters, check this out:

    http://aliens.wikia.com/wiki/Ur-Quan_Kzer-Za [wikia.com]
    http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Thorian [wikia.com]

    Heck, the thorian's mind controlled minions are even referred to as "thralls"

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